The Andre Dawson Classic, the annual round-robin collegiate baseball tournament for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, will have a new home at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida to start the 2024 college baseball season according to a Major League Baseball spokesperson.
The tournament was launched in 2008 as the MLB Urban Invitational in order to showcase and increase exposure of HBCUs baseball programs. The annual tournament was conceived by former major league executive Jimmy Lee Solomon and former Southern University head baseball coach Roger Cador.
Solomon and Cador, both barnstormed to put together an all HBCU baseball invitational classic in 2007 and came to fruition in 2008. Both helped organized the Urban Invitational featuring HBCUs which was televised on the MLB Network.
Solomon was an attorney and MLB baseball executive. He served as the executive vice president of baseball operations for (MLB) before going on to serve as the executive vice president for baseball development and MLB baseball operations, before his death in 2020.
Cador who was recently inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame in 2021, spent 32 years coaching Southern baseball from 1985 to 2017. His accomplishments included multiple conference championships, SWAC Coach of the Year awards, NCAA regional appearances, and three NCAA play-in appearances. Cador has also produced 35 players who played professional, or became coaches, umpires, or scouts, including 23 players drafted from 2001–2004. His head coaching record at Southern, 913-597-1 (.604) winning percentage. Cador was inducted to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2018 and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
MLB Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson also played a key role in advancing the invitational.
Previously, games were played at the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in Compton, California, at Minute Made Park, home of MLB Houston Astros, before settling at the MLB Academy in New Orleans.
The Jackie Robinson Training Complex was formerly the spring training home to the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. It is now operated by Major League Baseball as a multi-sport training and tournament destination for athletes of all ages and skill levels.
The facility has been upgraded with a renovated, 6,500-seating capacity stadium, a Major League clubhouse, four additional full-size baseball fields, four softball and youth baseball fields. The facility also features 89 on-site hotel rooms, a dining room, numerous meeting and conference spaces, on-site recreation for basketball and a competition-size swimming pool, and two fitness gyms.
Since 2008, the Andre Dawson Classic traditionally starts the second week in February at the beginning of the NCAA Division I baseball season.